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What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is generally defined as a “a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that may include inflicted physical injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, stalking, deprivation, intimidation and threats. These behaviors are perpetrated by someone who is, was, or wishes to be involved in an intimate or dating relationship with an adult or adolescent, and are aimed at establishing control by one partner over the other.” Read the legal definition of domestic violence here.

Whatever definition you use domestic violence can encompass a variety of behaviors and occurs when one person uses power, coercion and violence to control another. Violence against the victim is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, which creates a pattern of dominance and control. The perpetrator and victim can be partners in an intimate relationship as well as family members, parents of common children, or domestic partners.

Domestic violence can refer to many types of abuse, including child abuse, intimate partner abuse, elder abuse, and sibling abuse. It often includes acts of physical violence, but can also include psychological trauma, verbal threats of violence, coercive conduct, or any interference with the personal liberty of the victim.

Possible Indicators of Domestic Violence

Below is a list of potential behaviors that could indicate a domestic violence situation.

  • Isolation from family or friends
  • Name-calling, put-downs, ridicule, and emotional abuse
  • Jealousy and possessiveness
  • Threats of physical violence against you or your loved ones
  • Financial exploitation (this can mean many different things, including stealing money, hurting your property, interfering with your work or school)

If you believe you have experienced, are experiencing or may in the future experience, domestic violence, please reach out to a service organization in your area. They provide a wide array of services such as counseling, emergency shelter, temporary residency programs, job assistance, and advocacy through the legal process should you choose to report.

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